As we all know too well, freelance life isn’t always a bed of roses.
There are many struggles you have to face when being your own boss, all of which seem to centre on the looming uncertainty of when the next pay check will come.
However, there is one organisation that wants to help struggling entrepreneurs who are not only in need of a cash injection but some moral support from those who are experiencing similar issues.
Hatch Enterprise is a Brixton-based enterprise charity helping entrepreneurs find their feet, and their community.
To find out more about the work they do, we chatted to Emma Lange, Marketing and Communications manager for Hatch, who told us how they aid founders in need of support.
Emma explained that Hatch’s mission is to work with entrepreneurs from underrepresented, underserved communities to grow smart ideas into successful, profitable and sustainable businesses that have a positive impact on their communities. For them, this means specifically supporting people from BAME backgrounds and female entrepreneurs.
These groups can struggle to find the same reliefs offered to other businesses and so Hatch works to “help them achieve greater impact and scale their businesses” by offering a number of programmes for different levels of entrepreneur, catering to a range of budgets.
Touching on their Female Founders Programme, Emma explained: “Our female founders accelerator was designed for women with established businesses who have an annual turnover of over £30,000 and are looking to scale.
“Our accelerator is unique in that we tend to attract more social businesses over tech. We found that a lot of the accelerators in London tend to be tech focused or predominantly attended by males, so we saw a great need for this specific programme.”
And they’re continuously looking to develop and grow it to meet the expectations of the entrepreneurs in their programme.
Emma said: “We must have interviewed over 200 female founders, so that in designing the programme we could target the specific challenges they face. Our third cohort has just graduated and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. It’s great to see the impact we are having on these founders and to see the programme go from strength to strength.”
As well as the number of programmes they offer, the folk at Hatch feel it’s important for entrepreneurs to surround themselves with a physical community of like-minded individuals that can offer insight and collaboration. They even decided to create a community of their very own by crowdfunding their own coworking space, 55 East, which opened last November.
55 East offers freelancers not just an affordable coworking space but a café and an event space for pop up events and retail space, which is offered at a discounted rate for entrepreneurs. They also run a number of events on topics relevant to entrepreneurs, such as tax and accounting.
Speaking about their new space, Emma said: “Our coworking space was created as an extension of our programmes. From working with entrepreneurs, we know that the lack of affordable workspace is a major challenge. Our events space also acts as a pop-up space where entrepreneurs can safely trial their concepts without high up front cost.”
Emma explained that it’s important for entrepreneurs to have access to the facilities they really need, and that by owning their own coworking space, Hatch have access to a group of entrepreneurs who are able to communicate their needs directly with them.
And it turns out that entrepreneurs really aren’t in need of a gym and a fancy juicer from their coworking space.
She said: “We have a good idea of what early stage entrepreneurs and freelancers really need, which is a suitable space to work from with the necessary amenities such as fast wifi and printing facilities, and a community of individuals who are going through a similar entrepreneurial journey. A coworking community can provide important motivation and can also offer a platform for collaboration.”
55 East cater to a variety of people, quite literally, by running pop up cookery classes in their café.
Emma said: “The cafe, which is also open to the public, was a necessary addition, as the coworking members need to access all the fuel to keep them going. However, it also runs pop up cookery classes after hours, and serves as a platform for food entrepreneurs to trial their goods.”
Of course the most important aspect of the coworking space is the community spirit, and it’s something that can offer a lot of support when you’re considering taking the leap from employee to freelancer.
Emma advises new freelancers “find a strong coworking community”, explaining, “having an actual community where you can speak to people who can understand the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey makes a big difference.”
She added: “You can share relevant events, learn from each other and just make some great contacts!”
“I think having a physical community and an entrepreneur tribe is really important especially for your wellbeing.”
If you’re a London-based freelancer thinking about heading down to 55 East to take a look at the space, you can become a member here. If you’re interested in applying for any of Hatch’s programmes you can see whether you meet the criteria over on their website.